Chef’s note: The trick to adding tea flavor to baked goods is to infuse the fats–the butter and milk in this case. For improved texture and a bit more tea flavor, bake the bread one day ahead. Cool, brush with syrup, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature overnight. Top with glaze before serving.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour an 8×4-inch loaf pan.
- Warm milk in a small saucepan over low heat. As soon as small bubbles appear around the edge, remove from heat, add tea bags, and let steep for 7 minutes. Remove the tea bags, squeeze gently to remove the liquid, and discard. Refrigerate milk until chilled.
- Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
- Beat the tea-infused butter until creamy in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed. With the mixer running, gradually add the sugar. Increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating only until yellow yolk disappears after each addition.
- Add flour mixture to butter mixture in thirds, alternating with half of the milk, beating at low speed only until blended and smooth after each addition. Quickly beat in lemon zest and vanilla. Spoon batter into pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter a couple of times to remove any air bubbles.
- Bake 1 hour or until a long wooden pick inserted in center of bread comes out clean. Let bread cool in the pan 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the syrup.
For the syrup
- Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, add sugar, and stir until dissolved. Add tea bag and let steep for 7 minutes. Discard the bag.
- Remove bread from pan and place upright on a wire rack. Poke holes in top of bread with a skewer or chopstick. Brush tops and sides with tea syrup. Let cool to room temperature.
For the glaze
- Whisk powdered sugar vigorously in a small bowl to remove any lumps. Stir in lemon juice 1 teaspoon at a time until the glaze is smooth and very thick. It should fall off the spoon in a thick ribbon.
- Spoon glaze over top of the bread, letting it drip down the sides.
- Rub lemon zest and sugar together in a small bowl. Sprinkle on top of the bread.
- Store bread in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
For tea-infused butter
Chef’s note: Aromatic, high-quality loose tea works best in this recipe, but you can snip open tea bags and pour out the tea. If you have any butter left over after baking the bread, stir in a little honey, cover tightly, and use it on warm biscuits, scones, or toast—perhaps toasted slices of the Arnold Palmer tea bread. Method adapted from Robert Wemischner. Note that the tea soaks up a lot of the butter, hence the smaller yield.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in tea. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes.
- Strain through a fine mesh sieve, pressing firmly on the solids to extract as much butter as possible. Discard the tea.
- Cover butter and refrigerate until firm. Return to room temperature before using in Arnold Palmer tea bread.